Maine Coon cats are famous for their friendly and playful nature. They are also renowned for their large size, which has earned them the nickname “gentle giant.”
Yes, Maine Coon cats do indeed have big paws. These cats are quite large and are famous for having an extra toe. The reason behind their large paw size is their origins and body structure.
Maine Coons have paws that are bigger than those of regular cats, not just in proportion to their body size. However, there are also other fascinating characteristics and stories that contribute to their large paws.
The Body Structure of a Maine Coon
Similar to humans, cats possess varying bone structures that contribute to their unique appearance.
Maine Coons are the biggest breed of cat. The last two Guinness World Records for the biggest cats have been Maine Coons. An adult Maine Coon is usually around 10 to 16 inches long and can weigh between 8-18 pounds, depending on the gender. Males are usually heavier.
The physique of Maine Coons is what gives them their rugged and strong look. They have bigger bones, angular features in the head and face, and a rectangular body. They are wide in the shoulders, and solid muscle tones give this cat a dense look. These characteristics make Maine Coons special; when evaluated, these cats get points on how squared or robust the body structure is.
Additionally, Maine Coon cats have a tendency to continue growing! It’s not an endless growth, but they take twice as long as regular housecats to reach maturity.
Maine Coons are basically giant cats, and that includes their paws. Their paws are big and circular, with furry tufts. The reason for this is believed to be their ancestry.
Claws and Paws
The Maine Coon‘s paws are undeniably one of the most adorable parts of the cat. Their tiny toes and round shape make people want to grab them. But most cats will pull away quickly or put up a fight. This is because a cat‘s paw is more sensitive than the rest of its body.
Even though the paws of Maine Coon cats are strong, they contain many nerve endings that allow them to perceive their surroundings. This enables them to walk on uneven surfaces while still being able to determine if the surface is too hot or cold. Additionally, they possess sweat glands to regulate their body temperature and scent glands to mark their territory. Therefore, if you observe your cat scratching, it is likely that they are leaving their scent behind.
The paws of Maine Coon cats are large and have curved and retractable claws, allowing them to easily grip and climb trees. Claws are important for scratching, catching prey, playing, and self-defense.
Maine Coons really valued their paws and claws. Since they were skilled at catching mice, people sought out Maine Coons to help control rodents on their boats and in their homes. Their large paws and claws were crucial for this purpose.
Why do Maine Coons Have Extra Toes and Big Paws?
Maine Coons were originally tough cats from Maine who were skilled at navigating the sea. The coastal setting was filled with sailors and seafaring households, which is why Maine Coons were highly valued for their usefulness on ships. These cats were adept at catching their own food, climbing with ease, and eliminating mice that could consume the ship’s provisions.
Maine Coons’ paws were influenced by the snow. The abundance of snow posed challenges for walking, but Maine Coons developed wide paws that functioned like snowshoes. This enabled them to walk on the snow-covered ground without sinking. The fur on the paw pads provided insulation, keeping the cold at bay.
What Does Polydactyl Mean?
One more reason why Maine Coon cats have big paws is because they are famous for having extra toes.
If a cat has more than the usual number of toes, they are considered polydactyl. Normally, cats have five toes on each front paw and four on each back paw, totaling 18 toes. However, a polydactyl cat will have additional toes, typically on the front paws. It is uncommon to find them on the back paws, and even rarer for a cat to have extra toes on all four paws.
Typically, a cat with polydactylism has an additional toe on the side of the paw where the declaw is, or the claw doesn’t make contact with the ground. Usually, there is only one extra toe, but occasionally there may be more. However, there is limited space for extra toes, so it’s improbable to have more than two.
Maine Coons were one of the first cats to have this genetic mutation, which resulted in their paws being larger than average. This characteristic was quite common among them. Sailors believed that these cats brought good fortune, and they were not only fortunate but also skilled at catching mice that found their way onto ships.
Ernest Hemmingway, a well-known writer, was gifted a cat with extra toes by a sailor. This unique cat, named Snow White, captured Hemmingway’s heart as he was already a big fan of cats.
Many people still find Maine Coons to be adorable and special. This trait is becoming rarer and is not accepted in most cat shows. The Maine Coon breed standard clearly states that cats of this breed should only have 18 toes.
What Do I Do If My Maine Coon is Polydactyly?
Having extra toes does not indicate that a cat is unhealthy. The genetic mutation is usually harmless. The presence of an additional toe or two will not impact the well-being of your Maine Coon. However, it might make it slightly easier for them to get caught in blankets.
If your Maine Coon has extra claws, it’s important to give them plenty of scratching posts and surfaces to keep them happy. And when you trim their nails, don’t forget about the odd one!
The Hidden Dangers of Polydactylism
Sometimes, there is a possibility of having extra toes. The gene responsible for creating extra toes can also impact other parts of a cat’s body. For instance, this genetic mutation can result in the underdevelopment or total absence of the main bone in the arm.
Sometimes, cats may not have a nail at all, or their nails may grow in strange ways, such as being too curved or twisted. If left untreated, these issues can hurt the cat or make it difficult for them to walk comfortably.
Make sure to monitor your Maine Coon cat closely to ensure they are not experiencing any pain or discomfort.
Maine Coons hold numerous records as the biggest cat breed. Their square bone structure gives them a tough and sturdy appearance. Their large-boned physique also encompasses their paws. While their paws are naturally big, they have also evolved to withstand the harsh winters in Maine. Their large paws, padding, and insulation assist them in walking on snow, similar to snow boots.
Maine Coons often have an extra toe due to a genetic mutation called polydactylism. This mutation makes their paws appear larger than usual. While this is usually not a problem, it’s important to be cautious when trimming their extra nail and provide them with enough scratching surfaces.